Recently, a reader of I like this grape. asked us to recommend a wine to celebrate getting a promotion.
Some more context: she is a 5th year software engineer at a mid-size company in California that builds high-end websites and apps. She’s in her late 20's and this is her first job out of school. So the promotion is a big deal. She plans on having a little celebration with family and friends at her house.
We asked some of our sommelier and wine expert friends to weigh in and help our dear reader. Here’s what they said:
Alex Sanchez, Certified Sommelier and a Somm Next Door!
"I’d recommend the 2011 Mascot Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley for $115.
The story of this brand is really interesting. Will Harlan, the son of legendary Bill Harlan, created this brand as an experimental project focusing on the younger vines of Harlan Estate. The Mascot has had incredible success since its beginnings in 2008 and it represents the younger generation of winemakers in Napa Valley. This is the perfect wine to enjoy and treat yourself to for your big promotion. After all, you deserve it!"
Lisa Strid, Winemaker at Aridus Wine Company in Scottsdale, Arizona
"I think you have to go for a fun wine - after all, it’s a celebration! If you’re someone who loves bubbles, go for a Franciacorta - they’re Italian bubblies made in the same method as Champagne, and they encompass a huge range of styles at very friendly prices. Get a Riserva if you love bready, biscuity aromas and flavors. But, if you’re a fruit lover, an NV (non-vintage) should satisfy.
If you’d rather have a red, seek out an old vine Grenache from Australia. I’m sorry to say that this will probably ruin all other Grenaches for you. Oh, well. Now that you’ve been promoted, you can become the old vine Grenache person that was always there inside you.
I especially like the Clarendon Hills Kangarilla. And if you really want to mark the occasion, why not invest in a vintage port, use a marker on the bottle to remind why you bought it, and then hide it from yourself in a place that you won’t bother to look for the next 50 years? Then when you retire and decide to clean out the crawlspace and find the bottle, you can pop it open and praise yourself for being so wise at such a young age to invest in your own future enjoyment."
Andrew Cullen , Founder/Editor, CostcoWineBlog.com (no affiliation with Costco)
“Since this is a young developer, I’m going to put $100 cap on the wine since that will likely seem like a lot to drop on a wine unless they are really into wine. Given that range, I’d go Old World with something that isn’t the standard Napa Cabs which they might have had at company dinners and see all the time.
I would also want something with a little age on it so the wine can change and develop over time in a decanter. That way, this person can really savor and enjoy the wine as well as the fruits of their hard work. So my pick would be a second or third growth Bordeaux, which would fit the bill on all of these points.
A Pontet-Canet ($95) from an off year might fall in this price range, as would a Duhart-Milon ($120). You could also move to the right bank and go for something like the Canon La Gaffeliere ($85) or La Dominique ($45) which would save a few bucks.
I’d pick one of the above, toss it in a decanter and cook a fantastic meal enjoying a small taste every 30 minutes paying attention to how the wine develops while savoring your success.”
Cassandra M Brown, Certified Sommelier, CSW, CWAS, CSP
"If money isn't an issue, I would say splurge and pop a nice bottle of Champagne. "Champers" ranges from dry to sweet and works for every occasion.
If budget is an issue, popping a bottle of delicious bubbles doesn't always mean you have to pop a bottle of Champagne. It's totally fine to go for something more moderately priced like Prosecco from Italy or Cava from Spain.
Cremant de Bourgogne or another 'Cremant' is also a nice choice. 'Cremant' is French Sparkling wine made outside of the Champagne region but produced in other regions of France and is made in the traditional Champagne method.
There are also some beautiful domestic sparklers from California and even New Mexico that should not be overlooked. Bubbles...always the way to go!
Here are some to try. Great rec's other than Champagne. All these producers have an amazing assortment!:
Lucien Albrecht - France, $19
Schramsberg - California, $32
Roederer Estate - California, $45
Gruet - New Mexico, $15
Bien Vivre et Boire le Meilleur!"
Naushad Huda, founder of I like this grape. (not a sommelier, just a wine geek with an opinion)
"I’d go with a Cru Beaujolais. Beaujolais is a region in France and the grape used in these red wines is Gamay.
Now, don’t confuse Cru Beaujolais with Beaujolais Nouveau, which are uber popular wines that are released the 3rd week of November and heavily marketed.
Beaujolais Nouveau wines are bottled just a few weeks after the grapes are harvested, have very little tannins and are typically purple/pinkish in color. It's simply spiked grape juice! They are meant to drink and have a jovial time - think Pirates of the Caribbean! (Nothing wrong with them, but save the Nouveau for Sunday brunch.)
The Cru regions of Beaujolais, of which there are 10, produce wines that are very diverse in flavor - though all the wines are made from the same grape: Gamay! It’s fascinating to experience how the same grape can express itself so differently.
You can get some vibrant, juicy wines from a region in Beaujolais called Chenas all the way to slightly heavier, minerally, stony wines from regions such as Morgon. You can easily pick up a Cru Beaujolais wine for under $35. They pair with just about everything you eat, can be stored for years, and will be a fun wine to pronounce when you’re tipsy.
Tip: buy 3 of the same bottle, one to drink for the celebration and 2 to hang on to for future so you can reminisce about this wonderful achievement in your life years later.
Here's one I dig: Duboeuf Morgon Jean-Ernest Descombes 2015 ($19)"
If you have any suggestions for our young reader who is climbing the corporate ladder then please join the conversation Twitter: www.twitter.com/ilikethisgrape